The Best and Worst Taco Shell Options and How to Eat Them

Ingredients in Hard Shell Tacos

For the taco seasoning, I combined chili powder, ground cumin, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika and dried oregano. It’s actually the same recipe as my Homemade Taco Seasoning, but just scaled down so there’s none leftover. If you make ground beef tacos often, I highly recommend making an entire batch of seasoning so you can have that on hand for whenever the mood strikes!

For the filling, I sauteed some diced onions in olive oil until they became soft and translucent. Then add and cook the ground beef until browned and no longer pink. Once it’s cooked, the secret to getting the beef delicious and saucy is adding in some tomato paste and water.

I prefer using tomato paste instead of tomato sauce or diced tomatoes because you can easily control how “watery” everything is while still having that rich and thick tomato flavor.

Last but not least, you’ll also need some store-bought hard taco shells. I’ve tried making hard taco shells at home, but they never come out quite as good as store bought which is why I recommend just going ahead and buying them. Nowadays, there are lots of options and brands out there that aren’t made with bad ingredients. The shorter the ingredient list, the better!

7 simple rules: How to eat tacos without making a mess

#1: Line your shell with lettuce

To learn how to eat a hard shell taco with less mess, you can first make your taco shell more leakproof as you construct it. 

Before you build a hard shell or soft shell, take a clean piece of lettuce and line the inner side to block any sauce from seeping through the shell, causing drips and shell breakage. 

A larger piece ripped to the taco’s size works best, as shredded lettuce isn’t solid enough to catch the liquids that come from the salsa, sour cream, hot sauce, and meat.

After you line the shell with some lettuce, add your beans, rice, or cheese as a secondary protective barrier before the hot meat, which may make the lettuce soggy, causing leaks. 

#2: Don’t overfill your taco

We know, we know, it’s easier said than done. When you head to that taco bar and see the spread of delicious toppings ahead of you, the last thing you’re thinking about is holding it. 

Instead of feeling like you’re sacrificing precious ingredients in favor of holding a taco more efficiently, we say it’s the perfect excuse to have an extra taco!

If you’re filling a hard shell hand-holding taco, a decent rule of thumb (or power of pinky) – fill the shell as high as the entire length of your pinky finger. Well, unless your pinky is enormous! Any higher risks collapse and an ensuing mess. 

#3: Use a plate as a safeguard

While you can eat a taco straight from your hand, it’s always better to have a plate underneath to catch any overflowing taco ingredients. 

Hold your taco shell over your plate as you eat, and move your head over the plate as you bite, not the taco towards your face – otherwise, salsa and filling may plop directly onto your lap. 

#4: Don’t eat a lazy taco

Learning how to eat soft tacos is a little easier than hard, as you can put a soft-wrapped taco down carefully as you please.

Once you start filling your hard taco shell, you should never let your taco lie on its side; otherwise, toppings will tumble onto your plate. Instead, keep your taco propped up straight by placing your taco on your plate and inserting a fork into the taco for balance. Plastic forks don’t work as well as stainless steel, which has more weight to them for better balance. 

#5: Wrap your taco like a burrito

The best way to eat a soft shell taco is like a tightly-wrapped burrito. To make your taco-burrito hybrid, place your taco fillings off-center, and fold one edge of the wrap over the other. Tuck the ends in toward the filling, then roll the taco in the same direction as your first fold. 

#6: Dip, don’t drizzle your sauces

This tip works best for soft shell tacos – instead of stuffing your soft taco with salsa, sour cream, and hot sauce, keep your wrap clean and dry by keeping your condiments on your plate instead. 

Grab your wrapped taco and dip it straight into your favorite Mexican sauces with every bite. Dipping saves you a load of mess, keeps your taco from getting soggy, and it ensures you’ll get enough of each delicious sauce with each and every bite. 

#7: Eat hard shells from the outside in

Most people eat hard shell tacos from end to end – this is the wrong way if you’re trying to avoid a mess!

To eat this crunchy meal the cleanest way, start by holding the taco shell in the center, applying a little finger pressure around an inch above the base, also known as the “meat line.” Grip your taco from above, not below the taco. 

Take your first small bite at the end of your taco, then another two smaller bites on the same side, inching your way toward the center of the shell. Now, flip the taco and start on the other end, taking another three bites. 

Now, you’re left with two decently-sized center bites and an intact shell, and it’s time for the grand finale – finish it off!


How Long Are Hard Shell Tacos Good For?

Manufacturers suggest you use your taco shells soon after opening. Typically 1-2 weeks at most. Unopened packages are suitable for about a year although check the box for specific dates. Remember that not all dates are created equally. 

Soft Shell Taco

Photo by Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post via G
Photo by Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post via Getty Images

We’re back at the old debate: hard or soft shell taco. No matter which you choose, mess ensues.

The battle for the hard or soft taco basically comes down to taste. Do you like the crunchy corn flavour of nachos? Or do you like the tortilla taste of a burrito? The taco is Mexican cuisine that lets you go either way.

Soft tacos can come in standard or mini sizes. Or you can upgrade to a normal wrap size but at that point, you’re just eating a burrito.

There is an art to filling a soft shell taco. The advantage is that you can shape and hold a soft taco much easier around your fillings than a hard shell. Overall they are delicious, particularly if your tortilla is warmed up or slightly toasted.


Eating a delicious crunchy taco without crumbs or sauce spilling out is simple, easy to do, but requires a little more meticulousness. Hopefully, through this article, you can find out some useful tips on how to eat a taco.

Thank you for reading, and enjoy your favorite taco salads.

How Long Do Hard Taco Shells Last?

After serving, if left outside, the shelf life of the taco will fluctuate from 3 to 5 hours. During this time, the cake will be at its best, and the quality is intact.

However, if you leave your tacos freshly bought from the supermarket, pay close attention to the expiry date indicated on the package. If left in a cool environment of about 20-23 degrees in the air conditioner or on cold days, you can use the cake for up to 1 week, but the crust won’t be as good.

What To Do With Stale Hard Taco Shells

So, what do we do next time? How do you keep the taco shells from getting soggy? There’s no way to prevent the staling process completely. But, your best bet is to store them properly. Keep them covered in an airtight container. Unopened packages should last for a year. After opened, they are suitable for a week or two. Be sure to look for dates on the box for more information. 

We are huge proponents of reducing food waste by repurposing leftovers. So if you are unable to revive stale hard taco shells, don’t throw them out!  Here are some great ways to use them. 

  • Chilaquiles – This is a traditional Mexican dish where the tortillas are cooked in a broth. They are great with a fried egg on top. Try this recipe from The Kitchn.
  • With eggs – If you don’t want to go through the steps of making chilaquiles, mix the chips in as you scramble some eggs for a delicious breakfast. Serve with avocado and maybe some chorizo.
  • Meatballs – Instead of regular breadcrumbs, crush the stale chips and use them inside meatballs. They would be a great substitute for panko in this Buffalo Chicken Meatball recipe.
  • Use as a topping for chili or a little bit of texture in salad.

What Do You Think?

Have you ever had stale hard taco shells? Any tips or tricks to revive them? Let me know in the comments below; I’d love to hear.

Happy Taco Tuesday!

Pin this for your next fiesta!

How to Make Your Own Baked Tortilla Chips

Instead of buying premade chips, which are often fried and high in fat and salt, make your own healthier version in the oven using just a little bit of oil and salt. For a little spice, sprinkle some chili powder or cumin onto the tortillas along with the salt.

Directions: Preheat oven to 400°F. Lightly brush one side of 4 corn tortillas with about 1/4 teaspoon canola oil each and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Stack the tortillas and cut into 8 wedges; arrange on lightly oiled baking sheets in a single layer. Bake until crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. Makes 32 tortilla chips.

Don't Miss: Get more ideas for recipes with tortillas.


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